Moderate exercise during pregnancy is beneficial to moms and unborn babies. We are told we can move and exercise as long, as we do not feel pain and discomfort. Do you want to run? – Do it! Lift weights? Go ahead. Intense spin class? I’ve seen those mamas- they rock!On one hand, it is great that we are not limited, because pregnancy is not a disease, but on the other, it is not as simple as the growing belly that is going to get in your way.

We know from research, how physiological changes in woman’s body during pregnancy affect movement and may lead to potential injury.  Therefore, we should focus on properly adjusting our workouts.

Baby is most likely going to be better than ok, during your workout, even an intense one, but Your body might be affected negatively by intense types of training and cause issues later in life. Pregnancy is not the time for “gainz” it’s time to feel good, prepare for delivery and be mindful when it comes to exercise.

Physiological changes during pregnancy affect your kinetic chain. Center of gravity shifts, lordosis in lumbar spine increases, hip flexion increases –and those are natural changes, but if you add heavy weights to it, a lot of intense spin sessions, or running; these repetitive movements in your altered body state might be harmful to your joints and postural alignment in the end. Moderation is the key in everything you do when it comes to exercise while pregnant. (Always check with your doctor!)

Although I do not see a lot of pregnant runners around, I’ve heard many stories of pregnant women running marathons and shorter races. Running became a “go to” activity in recent years. Everyone can do it, but not everyone can do it right. Running 5k 10 k without proper training will eventually cause injury. That’s how your body reacts to repetitive movement combined with muscle imbalances. Unfortunately, we all have these imbalances. After all we are not perfect. With proper corrective exercise program you can correct them, move better and avoid injury.

We experience muscle imbalances in a non-pregnant state. There is just not enough research on how these imbalances change throughout your pregnancy and how they can affect your alignment during running. I came across only two research papers that covered running while pregnant.

What does research say about running while pregnant?

Can you, do it? Google says that, Yes, you can!  Should you? It’s your choice. (and again, check with your doctor). Research shows that competitive runners rarely run in 3rd trimester. Most stop by the 2nd. And these women are professional athletes. They get proper training and recovery.

Some women feel heaviness in their abdomen very early on in pregnancy. Even in first trimester. This is a sign that you should eliminate high impact exercise from your routine, because your pelvic floor is not feeling it. The extra pressure that is created by pregnancy plus forces that affect you during running will weaken it, contributing to incontinence issues, sexual discomfort, or possible prolapse later in life and immediately after pregnancy At least 1 in 3 women will experience issues related to pelvic floor later in life.

How does your running gait change during pregnancy?

The running gait is a unique set of actions and reactions that your foot performs while in motion to support, cushion, and balance your body. It is the way your foot lands on the ground: the strike, sound you make, step rate and, arm swing. Full body movement.

Your gait will naturally slow down as you progress in your pregnancy. Your body will slow down. This will come back to normal around 12-16 weeks postpartum.

Another major development is how dorsiflexion of your ankle changes during pregnancy (ability to flex your foot upward) Ability to flex your foot decreases and that in turn will make you prone to sprains and falls. According to small Japanese research dorsiflexion changes do not easily go back to normal in postpartum period and runners should be monitored for those changes in postpartum period before they go back to running.

Hip flexion increases and your anterior pelvic tilt increases during pregnancy leading to possible increased lower back pain if you decide to run. These changes will affect your movement overall and they should be monitored during exercise to prevent possible dysfunction in the future.

Your posture will be affected by the front load. You need to remember to pull your shoulders back even more now and engage your core.

Pregnancy is a time of quick changes in your body, whatever you do when it comes to physical activity, make sure it is in moderate range.  Always check with your doctor and maybe forgo running during pregnancy. Walk outside, try light weights and elliptical. Get rid off “all or nothing” approach to exercise. Don’t train – be active instead!

Ania Schietzelt
NASM Certified Personal Trainer,
NUTRITION Specialist.
Mom of Two. Active lifestyle junkie. @mommyfitnyc
About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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